What is the difference between the following two sentences -----

It can be easily changed into a subordinate clause.

It can easily be changed into a subordinate clause.

Do they both mean the same?

2 Answers 2


Yes, they mean the same thing. This sentence contains a verb catena ("can be changed"), and which verb in a catena an adverb actually modifies is often not clear. However, this is not such a big deal, because there is often (though not always) little difference in meaning. In this case, there is no practical difference; the adverb simply answers the question, "How can it be changed into a subordinate clause?" The answer is "easily".


There is no clear difference in meaning between placing the adverb of manner (i.e. easily) after the modal verb (can) or after all the auxiliary verbs (can be) but since the general rule says that manner adverbs modify what they follow, then you can consider that:

In your first example, "easily" modifies "can be", while in your second example, it modifies "can". Now depending on what is the difference between "can" and "can be" is what forms the difference in meaning between the adverb two positions.

"Can" defines the ability.

"Can be" defines the possibility.


"I can run": I have the ability to run.

"I can be a runner": It is possible for me to be a runner.

However, it is more preferred and common for the adverb to come after the model verb in such tenses although both cases are possible and correct.

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